Alonso beats Vettel to Singapore pole

Fernando Alonso recovered from an engine issue in Q2 to take an important pole position for Ferrari at the Singapore Grand Prix.

The double world champion encountered a problem with the engine mapping resulting in a loss of performance. After a system reboot, the Ferrari was back up to speed and the Spaniard rewarded the team with his second successive pole.

Alonso fended off a strong challenge from pre-race favourite Sebastian Vettel – who looked all weekend the quickest in the Red Bull – but the young German had to be content with second on the grid.

Vettel began his final flying lap in a provisional seventh place after making a mistake earlier in Q3, and despite being comfortably up on Alonso’s time through the first sector, he faded over the remainder of the lap and was left in second position, 0.067 seconds down on his rival’s best time of one minute, 45.390 seconds.

While the Scuderia celebrated Alonso’s pole, it was a complete contrast for team-mate Felipe Massa. The Brazilian will start from the back of the grid following a suspected engine problem during Q1.

Locking out the second row is the McLaren Mercedes team, with Lewis Hamilton taking third ahead of Jenson Button. Last year’s race winner Hamilton should be feeling pretty encouraged to be only a tenth of a second adrift from Vettel’s faster Red Bull.

As for the world championship leader Mark Webber, the Australian is disappointed to line up fifth in the Red Bull.

Rubens Barrichello lines up sixth for Williams ahead of Nico Rosberg in the Silver Arrows and Renault’s Robert Kubica. For Michael Schumacher – competing in his first appearance at the Singapore street circuit – the Mercedes GP driver will start in ninth with Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi rounded out the top ten.

In the battle of the second division of Formula One, Virgin Racing took the honours with Timo Glock taking P18, with a late challenge from Lotus Racing’s Heikki Kovalainen allowing the Finn to get ahead of Lucas di Grassi.

Jarno Trulli lines up in P21 ahead of Formula One returnee Christian Klien, who left his HRT team-mate Bruno Senna behind to join Massa on the back row.

As for Nico Hulkenberg, who recorded the twelfth fastest lap time, the Williams driver will start from P17 due to a five-place grid penalty after a gearbox change.

So with the five championship contenders at the sharp end of the grid, Sunday’s race around Marina Bay is going to be exciting and dramatic. There may even be a chance of rain! Only 24 points split the top five drivers and with 25 points up for grabs for the race victory, who will it be? We will find out after 61 laps under the bright lights in Singapore.

Qualifying times from Singapore:

1.  Alonso         Ferrari                1:45.390
2.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault       1:45.457
3.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1:45.571
4.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:45.944
5.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1:45.977
6.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1:46.236
7.  Rosberg        Mercedes               1:46.443
8.  Kubica         Renault                1:46.593
9.  Schumacher     Mercedes               1:46.702
10. Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1:47.884
11. Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:47.666
12. Petrov         Renault                1:48.165
13. Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:48.502
14. Heidfeld       Sauber-Ferrari         1:48.557
15. Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1:48.899
16. Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes   1:48.961
17. Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth      1:47.674*
18. Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1:50.721
19. Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth         1:50.915
20. di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth        1:51.107
21. Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth         1:51.641
22. Klien          HRT-Cosworth           1:52.946
23. Senna          HRT-Cosworth           1:54.174
24. Massa          Ferrari                No time

*Five-place grid penalty for gearbox change

7 thoughts to “Alonso beats Vettel to Singapore pole”

  1. The top three drivers’ views on the qualifying session at Singapore. Reports taken from

    Fernando Alonso says he is not too worried about the prospect of rain at the Singapore GP after securing pole position for the event.

    The Ferrari driver clinched his second pole in a row on Saturday, after edging Red Bull rival Sebastian Vettel by less than a tenth.

    Alonso, who is 19 points behind championship leader Mark Webber, admitted he is expecting a difficult race tomorrow, but reckons Ferrari will be strong both in the dry and in the wet.

    “It is going to be a tough race but we are in the best position to start,” said the Spaniard after securing his 20th pole position in Formula 1. “Obviously pole will help in the dry and in the wet in terms of visibility so let’s try to take the opportunity.

    “Tomorrow if it rains in any part of the day there will be parts of the track that will remain wet so it is a race to survive in some way. Starting on pole is the best thing, we are not worried about wet or dry as we should be quick in both.”

    Alonso conceded, however, that his pole will mean little if the race is wet tomorrow.

    “We know that there are some circuits where it is important to be on pole, and this is one. If it rains on the day Turn 3 or Turn 5 will be wet, so maybe pole means a bit less in those conditions because you can lose four or five seconds – it is the best position to start the race.

    “In preparation for this Sunday afternoon you need a good Saturday and today we did it.”

    He added: “The main target is to be on the podium. At the moment Lewis and Mark are in front in championship, so the target is to finish the race in front of them if we can, and if we cannot then finish as close as we can to not lose more points. The job for tomorrow is to do that and when someone else is leading the championship we compare with those.”

    Alonso had a small scare during the second qualifying segment, complaining about the mapping of his engine.

    The issue came after team-mate Felipe Massa was unable to set a time when his car stopped in Q1 with an apparent engine issue.

    “We tried to understand Felipe’s problems obviously, looking at telemetry but until car is back we will not know,” Alonso added.

    “We made some safe changes in the car to avoid risks. We ran with experimental hings here and after Massa we went back to the old one. In Q2 we were running old maps on the car and in Q3 with the right maps the car was feeling better.”

    Sebastian Vettel believes he can still win the Singapore Grand Prix despite missing out on pole position on Saturday.

    Vettel, who looked like the favourite for pole after topping two of the three practice sessions, lost out to Alonso by less than a tenth of a second.

    The Red Bull driver still believes he should have been on pole, but reckoned his session had not gone as smoothly as expected.

    “I missed pole by a little bit but we should have been on pole,” said Vettel. “It was not a very smooth qualifying session with traffic here and there, but that is how it is.

    “Tomorrow it is more important, and starting second is not a bad thing considering they did quite a job at cleaning the circuit and second is not as bad as the last couple of years and if it rains tomorrow anything is possible. We have a very strong car no matter what the conditions.”

    He added: “Obviously it is not ideal, so we have to be happy with second and even if we go second or third into the first corner, depending on conditions we have a good car and are able to win. It’s much more important tomorrow than today.”

    “This is one of the long races, it is nearly two hours, very tough, and a lot of things can happen. Surely it helps the further up you are in qualifying. Fernando started from 15th and won the race [in 2008],” joked Vettel, referring to the race-fixing scandal that helped Alonso win the race two years ago.

    Vettel is also confident that Red Bull will be able to make a good start in tomorrow’s race after having struggled with them in recent events.

    “Lately our starts were not as good as they used to be at the beginning of the season,” he said. “We struggled a little bit to put consistent starts in. We have done some homework and we should be better tomorrow.

    “I don’t think there is anything wrong, if you look at it I think we were a bit unfortunate. Silverstone we had the same start behind us, therefore there is not much to worry about, and we have some improvements. We don’t come here with new parts so pretty much as we have been but set-up slightly different.”

    Lewis Hamilton is confident that McLaren has the pace to beat Red Bull in tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix after a solid performance in qualifying today.

    Hamilton will start tomorrow’s race from third on the grid alongside team-mate Jenson Button, and the Briton claimed that Fernando Alonso’s pole and McLaren’s lockout of the second grid both prove that Red Bull’s advantage is slipping.

    “They are beatable,” he said in the post-qualifying press conference. “Fernando has proven that today through qualifying.

    “Clearly they don’t have the two second lead they had at one stage this year. Our team is doing a solid job and long run pace is better than qualifying pace, so tomorrow we will have a good race.”

    Hamilton said that he was reasonably satisfied with his own performance in qualifying, although he felt he could have gotten more out of the car on his final run.

    “The session was okay, ” he said. “On the first lap I was much too close to Jenson so on the last sector I was losing a bit of downforce, but nevertheless it was quite a good lap. In the last lap, I didn’t improve – it wasn’t a good lap.”

  2. After qualifying eighth for the Renault F1 team, Polish driver Robert Kubica has said that the team has to stay realistic in terms of performance when competing against its rivals. has the full story and can be read below:

    Robert Kubica says Renault has to stay realistic about its prospects now, with the French team not pushing as hard as its rivals with the development of its 2010 car anymore.

    “I think we need to stay realistic at this stage of the season because the top three teams are still pushing very hard to develop their cars, while we only brought a small upgrade here,” said Kubica after qualifying eighth ahead of tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix.

    Renault was expected to enjoy a strong outing at the Marina Bay circuit due to the similar characteristics to Monaco, where Kubica shone all weekend.

    But the French squad has not brought significant updates to Singapore, while some rivals are still pushing hard with their development.

    “Mercedes and Williams have also been at a very similar pace to us for several races, so we knew we would be fighting in the second half of the top ten today and that meant it was difficult to achieve much more than P8,” added the Pole.

    “The car is lacking overall grip, and sliding front and rear, but I was quite happy with my lap. Our timing meant we only did one timed lap in Q3, so it was all or nothing, and I think I got nearly all the potential out of the car.”

    Team-mate Vitaly Petrov endured a disappointing day after damaging his car when he spun during Q2, the Russian unable to move into the top-ten shootout.

    “Looking at the times, it would have been possible for me to get into Q3 today, but I made a mistake on my first run in Q2,” he said. “I had gone through Q1 on the prime tyres, and was pushing hard on the options when I went too deep on braking for turn five, lost control of the car and hit the wall with the right rear wheel.

    “The corner was still damp from the rain this afternoon, like it has been most of the weekend, and it just caught me out: it was my mistake. I know that it’s going to be a tough race tomorrow, especially because overtaking is so difficult here in Singapore.”

  3. Making his Grand Prix comeback for BMW Sauber is Nick Heidfeld and after qualifying in P15, ‘Quick Nick’ has commented that he was expected more. has the details.

    Nick Heidfeld admitted he was hoping for a better result in qualifying in Singapore, but reckons maybe it was not realistic to have higher expectations.

    The German is driving on a grand prix weekend for the first time since the end of last season, and he finished down in 15th place in today’s session.

    Heidfeld, replacing Pedro de la Rosa at Sauber, was a full second slower than team-mate Kamui Kobayashi.

    “I am not completely happy. I hoped for more and I think I didn’t get the most out of the car,” said Heidfeld. “But perhaps this wasn’t realistic considering the fact I only drove this car yesterday for the very first time with these tyres.

    “There is a lot to learn and I’m sure we will be benefiting from it soon. I’m not too pessimistic for the race, because the long runs in free practice under race conditions were quite good. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

    Kobayashi, on the other hand, was delighted with his showing after making it into Q3, ending up as 10th quickest.

    “I am very happy. I managed to do a couple of good laps in qualifying. In free practice on Friday I didn’t find it easy. For me the track was new and it obviously is a challenging one, as well as a special one with the heat and the lights.

    “But I also wasn’t happy with the car in free practice. The team did a great job in improving it, so in qualifying it was good and I think my result is the best we could achieve today.”

  4. As for the other driver making his Grand Prix comeback, Christian Klein, the Austian was delighted to have outqualified his HRT team-mate Bruno Senna by 1.3 seconds. Read the story below for the full details.

    Christian Klien was elated with his performance in qualifying for the Singapore GP in what his return to competitive action.

    The Hispania driver, standing in for the unwell Sakon Yamamoto, outqualified team-mate Bruno Senna by 1.3 seconds on his way to 22nd place on the grid.

    “It’s great to be back and I am very happy about my qualifying result from today,” said Klien, who has not raced in Formula 1 since 2006.

    “I was a bit nervous before the session but then I was completely concentrated on doing the best lap time possible.

    “I could improve constantly during the weekend and we achieved our aim completely. We are ready for anything that can happen tomorrow, and I hope to achieve a good result again.”

    Senna, who spun during the session, admitted his car was not easy to drive and was left hoping for better tomorrow.

    “It was hard to drive today,” he said. “In the third practice, we had understeer and in qualifying, it changed to oversteer. But tomorrow is another day and we hope that the track conditions will improve again.

    “We are trying to do better tomorrow and I am looking forward to my first night race.”

  5. Ferrari will change Felipe Massa’s engine for the Singapore Grand Prix, even though the Brazilian said the problem that hit him in qualifying was related to the gearbox.

    The Ferrari driver, who has already used the eight allocated engines for the season, stopped on track during Q1 and was unable to set a time.

    Although Massa said the problem was with the gearbox, the team will use the opportunity to replace the engine with a new one – the ninth of the season – since the Brazilian will start from the back of the grid anyway.

    “I had a problem with the gearbox which seized unexpectedly, without giving any warning and so I had to stop out on the track: now we have to understand exactly what happened,” said Massa.

    “We will change the engine as a precaution, also taking into account the fact I am last on the grid.

    “I’m expecting to have a very complicated race, especially as we are at a track where overtaking is very difficult, but it’s true that anything can always happen: rain, safety car, who knows!

    “I am very disappointed of course because today we had a very competitive car, as Fernando proved. I like this track but it seems that it does not bring me much luck…”


  6. Reigning world champion Jenson Button has commented that making a good start off the grid will be the main priority to beat Sebastian Vettel. has the full story.

    Jenson Button says that the start will be key to tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix, and believes that he and McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton stand a good chance of being able to jump Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.

    The pair will start from the second row behind pole-sitter Fernando Alonso and Vettel, and with overtaking opportunities being limited around the Marina Bay circuit, Button said that everything hinged on the run to the first corner.

    “The start is the key,” he said. “To get a good start is really important. My problem is that I’ve got the same car as my team-mate in front, and he’ll get as good a start as me so I’ll not be able to overtake him at the start – although you never know into Turn 1.

    “But Vettel has been making a lot of poor starts lately, and I’m not saying it’s his fault, but the pace hasn’t been good off the line for the Red Bulls. So it’s a positive for us, and we’ll see what happens.”

    Button said that he was reasonably happy with his own starting position of fourth despite not quite getting the most out of his tyres on his best lap.

    “On my first run in Q3 I pushed very hard out of the box, because I was the first car and we wanted to make sure that we got two runs in for both cars,” he said.

    “The first sector I pushed quite hard and I damaged the rear tyres quite a bit, so I struggled then. So on the second lap I thought I’d take it a bit easier on the out lap, but then I didn’t have any tyre temperature when I got to the first sector. So I struggled with that, but the second and third sectors were good. I set the quickest time in the middle sector. But I didn’t have the first sector, so it cost me a few tenths.”

    The Briton also said that he was confident that he would be more competitive in race conditions.

    “The pace was good yesterday with high fuel,” he said. “Mark [Webber] is the car behind me and I think he’s probably struggled the most out of all of us on high fuel. I am happy with the car I have for the race, and reasonably happy with fourth, and I think we’re a lot quicker compared to the red Bulls than maybe they thought.”

  7. Sakon Yamamoto didn’t look all that unwell when his face popped up on the BBC coverage. This stuff with HRT is getting ridicules, if they haven’t got the money then pull out. No point clogging up the track and wasting money that probably could be better spent.

    Otherwise, I hate the Singapore GP because it’s just Valencia at Night. Money grabbing rubbish taking the sport away from the genuinely interesting tracks. Unless these designers can come up with something that isn’t off Tilke’s “Completed projects” Shelf I fear future tracks are going to become ever more dull…

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